Medidata Blog

Hackathon 2018: Closing the Diversity Gap in Clinical Trials

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Riding on the heels of success in Basel, Phoenix, Barcelona, Tokyo, Berlin and London, Medihack 2018 at NEXT NYC is the largest hackathon event in Medidata history. The 24-hour hacking marathon brings together individuals across the industry to apply design thinking principles to common business problems in the life science space. This year, we are addressing problems that hinder the advancement of diversity in clinical trials.

The mission is broad: Come together with the best and brightest in our industry to identify and tackle obstacles in the clinical trial space by applying design thinking methodology. Teams that are established beforehand or on the fly based on shared interests compete to develop a working prototype and showcase it onstage with Chief Hack Officer Ross Rothmeier at NEXT NYC.

In the past, teams have built automated tools for conducting and documenting study edit check user acceptance testing, an Alexa interface allowing Medidata Rave to collect data for ePRO, and a specialized status report which used extracts from audit trail reports and ALS output from Architect to post-process it in Visual Basic for applications in Excel.

However, this year’s is distinct from past hackathons in several ways. First is a sponsorship: Google is the exclusive sponsor of #MediHack and will provide access to their healthcare API and data, and will provide personnel with expertise in big data queries and life science tech. This greatly increases the breadth of possible prototypes as participants have access to a wide variety of de-identified data sets for phenomena including labor statistics, atmospheric conditions, and patient care.

Additionally, this is the first Medihack event to have a theme: Closing the Diversity Gap in Clinical Trials.

To ensure the accuracy of the data produced by a trial, it’s important to test new therapies on the most diverse range of patients possible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. The majority of clinical trials conducted today lack diversity in their sample population. Minority populations are consistently underrepresented, which is a significant problem, especially in clinical trials exploring diseases which disproportionately affect minority populations.

Increasing diversity in clinical trials will reduce disparities in the health of minority populations and increase public health overall. As part of our mission to power smarter treatments and healthier people, Medidata is dedicated to confronting the underrepresentation of minorities in the life sciences.

Judging criteria will include an evaluation of the entrant’s impact to diversity in the clinical trial space, and a diversity prize will be awarded to the team whose entry has the most significant impact on increasing diversity in clinical trials.

Diversity will also be a topic of discussion during Medidata Senior Systems Architect Lisa Rivera’s design thinking workshop. One of three hackathon breakout sessions, the design thinking session is an opportunity for attendees to share their thoughts on diversity in clinical trials and the challenges they see in incorporating greater diversity into clinical trials. The hacking teams will use design thinking methodology to practically and creatively identify and explore these challenges.

Other breakouts include a MEDS Architecture deep dive, in which participants are guided through the ins and outs of the Medidata platform and the six domains of MEDS—cross-sponsor, cross-study data powered by machine learning. Topics include data management and processing, APIs, and detailed discussions of how ontologies, experimental design, analytics and artificial intelligence fit into the MEDS architecture and its future.

After the three breakout sessions, the real hacking begins and teams get to work building their prototypes. Teams work through the night (or as late as they want to), and are done by 8:30AM. Judging happens in real time as teams finish, and is based on four criteria:

1. Medidata platform usage

2. UX quality

3. Industry relevance

4. Relevance to diversity in clinical trials

Once the winner is selected, they will join Chief Hacker Ross on the main stage of NEXT as he explains the hackathon and showcases their project. We can’t wait to see you there.

Jacob Angevine